Picked up a rather lovely little cd the other day.
I was flicking through the selection in Leith’s British Heart Foundation shop when my eyes were drawn to a striking black and white image of Duke Ellington.
My first reaction was that it would be yet another of these cheap and nasty compilations of his very early works copied direct to CD from someones old scratchy 78’s….how wrong was I?
It’s a collection of duets of [mainly] Elington standards by Danish bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson (NHØP) and American pianist Mulgrew Miller. What you get here is some of Ellington’s best know tunes, but stripped right back and minimal. Very relaxed and laid back. Beautiful music, "Come Sunday" is a particular favourite.
This is the type of jazz that really works on two levels. You can really sit there and listen to it note by note, or just sit back and let it wash over you. At times NHØP's double bass playing is almost guitar like. Mulgrew Miller was a member of the Duke Ellington orchestra from 1976 (under the leadership of Duke's son Mercer). So is obviously really at home with these numbers.
The recording quality, the production and the clarity of the sound are amazing.
Every note seems to be as clear as a bell. Which isn’t really a surprise when you discover that the album was produced as a Bang and Olufsen promo (if I wanted to give away a CD to advertise and hopefully sell, frankly, over priced HiFi's I'd want the sound to be clear as well).
I’ve found a couple of references to it on t’internet and discovered that the reviewer from Jazz.com gave the track “Caravan” 100/100 (a tad over generous perhaps).
Surprised that this recording hasn’t found a main stream release.
Anyway the best £1.99 I’ve spent in a while.